The Morning After Thinking

My youngest daughter was quite excited about this election.  She was away at college, but refused to submit her vote via absentee ballot. Since she was only three years old, we have had a standing date to go voting together. We exchanged emails and then she called to find out what time would I be at her school to pick her up. I could sense the great anticipation in her voice.

Well, on election morning, I grabbed my Kindle (an e-book reader) and took the 20 minutes hike to our polling station. It was 6:45 am, and I was looking at least a 2 hour line.  I then gave her a wake up call and told her to hasten her steps given the swelling lines.  She ended up 30 minutes behind me but swelled with pride as she proudly donned her “I voted” sticker.

On our ride back to school, we discussed the implication of our votes. We shared some of the giddy expectations we overheard while waiting in line.

Folks were really pumped up and were mesmerized by the pied piper atmosphere that has engulfed us.  The backdrop of two wars and a growing recession just adds to the drama, tension, run-away panic and thus limited objective thinking.

My daughter and I both shared our thanksgiving that this super bowl season of political trash talking is over. She being a pre-law student has a keen appreciation that discernment requires critical thinking.  Critical thinking is not being afraid to be wrong. It works with fairness, and respect. It is not hooked on the consensus idea. It is not an undisciplined emotion that will give sway to the current popularity wave, like a teenager at a jamming concert, but it does careful analysis and evaluation for one’s self.

There is no doubt that the huge historical nature of this race. It has an enormous tug on our hearts. Who wants to be on the wrong side of history?  How would I explain my vote to my daughters and a grandchild in future years? Listen in on my thoughts for some clues.

I would share that I used the time-tested principle of paying more attention to the “marriage rather than the courtship and wedding”. I look beyond the selling of the candidate to the governing principles of the elected.

I would first explain that if Dr. King could have witness this election cycle; he would smile at the progress that has been made. Yes, indeed America has made great strides in living up to its constitutional creed.  The enormous progress this country has made in becoming a more perfect union should be trumpeted.  Yes, there has been a surge of racial harmony whose momentum is unstoppable.  My early estimate is that at least 75% of the votes for  Obama will get will be from whites! A two thumb-tipping of the objective scales of journalism took place to affect the quality of our information. The media that provide the information window into these candidates have been most guilty in this regard. History has shown that issues not fully vetted during the campaign season do come back to imperil the elected governing years.

 It is my personal opinion that this electorate has been the under informed. When I have asked folks details on the proposed solutions, I found the answers wanting of requisite details.  Maybe someone can articulate the evidence of what “hope and change” means in the concrete.

 Given what folks have been through lately, the meltdown of the market, there is a naturally reactive hunger for leadership. Shell-shocked voters naturally embrace the mantra of “change and hope” to escape the enveloping economic misery. The real question needs to be what type of change is truly needed. Great leadership is not a casual commodity, not an element endowed by a reaction to stress and fear. As there is no Santa Claus, there is no political messiah. “We the people” are some of the most precious words of the US constitution that we should always remember. It goes beyond just voting to the full fledged practice of our genius with heart pounding freedom!

Another tempering reminder is the careful study of history shows that that political power has not been a major engine to move folks from poverty to prosperity. The dream deferred of the poor will collide with an over-leveraged, but deflating middle class dream. The poor has been led to believe that a new era of goodies is just around the corner, while the middle class is adjusting to the new era of a deflated American dream. Please tell me how this will work itself out?

  Writing two books, being rhetorically-gifted, with the charm to connect with diverse demographics, a well-honed campaign machine, and having an enviable marketing game plan make for a historic election winner. How will these great attributes translate into top notch governing? I feared that a “forced ripe” presidency can reduce the chance that greatness be associated with this promising leader. We are faced with huge challenges that will take seasoned leadership to shepherd us through these tough times. Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but I think that the weighty burdens of the new president and an agitated congress with a pent up license to exercise newly realized governmental powers will quickly keep it real for many of us.

The rubber hits the road around the campaign’s economic promise. The key referendum of this election is fixing the economy. Just as I am keenly aware how gravity works, I also know that a market-oriented, entrepreneurial spirit is the prime pistons that drive a wealth creating economy. Innovation, and managed risk is has traditionally been the stomping ground of small business. This has been the secret sauce that has propelled the American dream. It has been the formula to create a middle class here and elsewhere (think places such as Singapore and Taiwan ).

New tax policies will be the center piece of this economic plan. The new and improved Willie Suttons of congress know that the middle class is where the tax revenue lies; a word to the wise.

Look for my extensive analysis around next February on this issue.  By then the tax plan would have crystallized. Here is my humble prediction in a nutshell. Small business owners by then will be facing the dilemma of whether to pay their taxes or their employees.

Before you think I am just a spoil sport, I do believe in the strength of the American people. I pray our new president will take the mantle of leadership, redirect us to reconsidering the American dream beyond material terms, and inspire our vision of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness beyond the acquisition of stuff. I pray that we move to  the cusp of a new era of this old dream redefined in terms of a solid base of education, health, and service.

Now have your say and walk, talk, and think steady!